About Us

About this Project

This online exhibit is a project of Williams-Mystic, The Maritime Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport. Its purpose is to explore the quintessential maritime ballad, ‘Sir Patrick Spens’, and trace its afterlife through literature and art.

Site Map

  1. Home – Introduction and selected commentary
  2. The Ballad – Selected versions of the text with timeline and audio
  3. Origins – A brief exploration of the possible origins of the ballad
  4. Afterlife – Selected prose and poetry that demonstrate the ballad’s variety of influence on both British and American writers. Also included is a list of musical renditions.
  5. The Library – A complete bibliography of works featured on the site as well as additional sources.
  6. About Us – Further information about the project, including credits and site map.


This website was created in the summer of 2010 by Williams-Mystic alumna, Gabrielle Joffe S’10. The content was adapted from ‘The Poets at His Feet: The Afterlife of “Sir Patrick Spens”‘, a paper published in The Scottish Literary Review by Williams-Mystic lecturer in literature of the sea, Richard King (download PDF). Additional research and web assistance was provided by Aislinn Doyle S’05 (Director of Admissions), Megan Holmes (S’10 alumna), and Mari Lliguicota (Williams College, IT). This project was made possible by the Revell Carr Research Fellowship in Maritime Studies.

Image Credits

  1. Detail of Gustave Doré, ‘The Shadow of the Moon’, plate 27 from Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1876
  2. Detail of Gustave Doré, ‘The Ship Fled the Storm’, plate 4 from Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1876
  3. Detail of map of North Sea, Justhus Perthes, Atlas 1906, ‘Nordsee’
  4. Detail of James Archer, ‘The Legend of Sir Patrick Spens’,1870, with permission, Auckland Art Gallery
  5. Detail of Giuseppe Maria Crespi’s ‘Book shelf with music writings’, circa 1728

Contact Us

sealiterature (at) gmail.com or through Williams-Mystic

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